26 February 2017

Four more things we learnt about Greg Smith from his response to H&F's budget

It's never an easy job responding to a budget, particularly one that freezes council tax and parking charges, increases funding for adult social care, builds more homes and funds the largest number of police in the borough's history, as Hammersmith & Fulham Labour council’s 2017 budget does.

Perhaps that’s why Conservative opposition leader Greg Smith failed to offer any challenge to the budget when it was in committee.

Or perhaps, going by his responses to the budget in full council each year, it’s all, well, just a bit too hard for him.

This would-be council leader has already demonstrated he doesn’t get basic accounting by failing to understand the difference between one-off capital receipts and an annual revenue budget.

This year, here are four more things we learnt about Cllr Smith from his budget response on 22 February.

1.    He’s a hypocrite. He cheekily claimed the council was leaving garages empty and not building social housing, even though he knew that his own Tory colleagues voted recently – and unsuccessfully – against Labour’s plan to build 33 homes for social rent on unused garages in Sands End (see para. 7.2).

2.    He’s too lazy to do his homework. He called the proposed new Integrated Family Support Service a “£500,000 cut” to services, whereas it is a brand new service that doesn't yet exist and which will improve outcomes for residents and save £500,000 by breaking down artificial walls between council and public health officials.

3.    He’s a right-wing ideologue. He criticised the council for "nationalising" Lyric Square farmers market, whereas now that the council is running the market, traders are paying less to rent the stalls and the market is full.

4.    He’s not businesslike. He claimed the Labour administration wanted to "privatise our libraries by trying to make nearly £400,000 out of them", whereas the council is actually protecting all libraries and their opening hours by raising outside income from unused rooms and after-hours events, including weddings and civil partnerships

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